Night sweats after alcohol - when is it a sign of alcohol withdrawal?
Sweat is crucial for keeping our bodies cool and our sweat glands continue to work even when we're asleep.
There are numerous reasons as to why you may experience night sweats, such as having the menopause, low blood sugar or even a fever. Certain medications including antidepressants and steroids can also cause them, while your bedroom environment may also have an effect.
Alcohol is a more serious cause of night sweats and can be a sign of alcoholism. If you are struggling with alcohol, we have outlined the help and support that is available to help you on your journey to recovery.
Alcohol withdrawal and night sweats
Night sweats can be caused by alcohol withdrawal. If you identify yourself as addicted to alcohol, it is crucial that you do not start withdrawing from alcohol without seeking medical advice as the process is potentially life threatening.
Withdrawal symptoms typically occur within 8 hours after your last drink and peak between 24 and 72 hours. Withdrawal symptoms can be classed as mild, moderate or severe. It is important to be cautious as the severity of the symptoms can change within hours.
Mild symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Mild itchiness
- Slight tremors
- Slight sensitivity to sounds and light
- Feeling clammy
- Mild headaches
Moderate symptoms include:
- Frequent nausea and dry retching
- Pins and needles, burning or numbness
- Tremor seen when arms are outstretched
- Noises become startling and lights become uncomfortable
- Moderate headache or pressure around the head
- Mentally less alert
- Mild confusion
Alcohol withdrawal can lead to delirium tremens (DTs), which is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal. This is very serious and life-threatening, can worsen very quickly and requires immediate medical care.
Signs of delirium tremens include:
- Constant nausea
- Retching and vomiting
- Auditory and visual hallucinations
- Coarse tremors
- Drenching sweats
- Acute confusion
Severe withdrawals may also lead to seizures as alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant and abrupt withdrawal can lead to CNS excitability.
Priory Hospital Woking's Dr Laurence Church (MBChB, MRCPsych, MSc) advises that “daily drinkers at risk of being physically dependent on alcohol should not suddenly stop drinking, as they will be at risk of withdrawal seizures and delirium tremens. They should seek medical advice and support to stop drinking. It is usually safe to gradually reduce consumption according to a tapered regime, but in practice this is very difficult to do as it requires people to fully control and limit their drinking."
Getting help for alcoholism
If you are struggling to give up alcohol, Priory can support you as you work towards achieving a fulfilling life away from addiction. We understand that admitting that you have a problem can be tough, but it is the first and most significant step you need to take.
At one of our Priory alcohol rehabilitation centres, you will receive treatment according to your needs and the severity of your dependence. This can include detoxification, which is done in a safe environment with 24 hour care and support. There is also inpatient rehabilitation, which can help you to gain an understanding of why you drink and develop coping strategies for the future. We also have outpatient therapies, where people can receive care for alcohol dependency around their responsibilities.